When and How Does Functional Diversity Benefit Team Innovation? Examining Support for Innovation as the Moderator and Knowledge Sharing as the Mediator

  • CHEUNG, Sally S Y (PI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    Research on team innovation, i.e., the generation and implementation of novel and potentially useful ideas by individuals working together in a team (West, 2002), has widely applied the input-processes-output (I-P-O) model (e.g., West & Anderson, 1996). Functional diversity has been regarded as an important input (e.g., Bantel & Jackson, 1989) because it potentially provides broad knowledge resources conducive to team innovation (e.g., Taylor & Greve, 2006). Existing team innovation research, however, has yet to develop and empirically test an I-P-O model for functional diversity. Functional diversity may benefit team innovation when team members actually share their knowledge (e.g., Drach-Zahavy & Somech, 2001). Thus, intra-team knowledge sharing may be a mechanism relating functional diversity to team innovation. Social categorization theory, however, suggests that individuals may hold negative views of others who they consider different from themselves (Tajfel, 1982). An implication of such bias is that functionally dissimilar members may not automatically engage in knowledge sharing. It is important to understand when functional diversity influences intra-team knowledge sharing and thus team innovation.

    The proposed study will examine support for innovation as a moderator in the relationship between functional diversity and intra-team knowledge sharing. West (1990) defined support for innovation as “the expectation, approval and practical support of attempts to introduce new and improved ways of doing things in the work environment” (p. 38). When a supportive climate for innovation exists, functionally dissimilar members may share knowledge because of the external expectation on innovation and a norm on cooperative relations. The enhanced knowledge will improve team innovation. Additionally, we propose intra-team knowledge sharing as a mediator in the support for innovation-team innovation relationship. Despite the ample evidence of the positive relationship between support for innovation and team innovation (see Hülsheger, Anderson, & Salgado, 2009 for a meta-analytic review), we do not know much about how it occurs.

    We will collect temporally-lagged, multi-source data from 10-15 advertising agencies. We will collect data on functional diversity and support for innovation (wave 1) and intra-team knowledge sharing (wave 2) from employees, and team innovation from team supervisors (wave 3).

    Upon completion, this program of research will expand current knowledge on (1) how functional diversity and support for innovation relate to team innovation; and (2) when the relationship between functional diversity and team innovation is strengthened or weakened. In doing so, this study advances scholarly understanding of the effects of functional diversity on team innovation.
    Effective start/end date1/10/1230/09/14


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